The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

Stagflation is economic stagnation or high unemployment combined with high inflation. Here is what a Wikipedia author said. “It is a difficult economic condition for a country, as both inflation and economic stagnation occur simultaneously and no macroeconomic policy can address both of these problems at the same time

This is one statement with which, both mainstream economists and Modern Monetary Theorists (MMT) seem to agree. I disagree with both.

Economic stagnation, high unemployment and recession all indicate the same fundamental problem: The economy is starved for money. Inflation (wrongly) is felt to be caused by too much money, which is why we experience the universal belief that “no macroeconomic policy can address both of these problems at the same time.”

Stagflation is most likely to occur when oil prices spike. A rapid increase in oil prices causes inflation. It also has a negative effect on production and economic growth. U.S. stagflation could occur, even in the near future, were any major oil producing states, for economic or political reasons, decide to reduce production dramatically.

Debt hawks (aka mainstream economists) would address stagflation with increased federal spending, while simultaneously increasing taxes to “pay for” the spending. The benefits of the increased spending would be offset by the damages of increased taxation. The former adds money to the economy; the later removes money from the economy — equal and opposite effects.

Even today, as we try to recover from the worst recession in decades, debt hawks continue to demand increased taxes to “pay for” spending, not realizing that in a monetarily sovereign nation, taxes do not pay for spending. Simultaneously, the Fed, wrongly believing interest rate cuts stimulate the economy, would lower rates, thereby exacerbating the inflation.

The Fed believes this, because raising interest rates does cure inflation, and for reasons known only to the Fed, they believe inflation is the opposite of recession, so for recessions, they do the opposite. Unfortunately for Fed theorists and for us citizens, the opposite of inflation is deflation, not recession, so doing the opposite doesn’t work.

MMT followers also would increase spending (good) and increase taxes (bad), because they believe taxes control inflation.

In short, MMT and debt hawk economists would follow the same path, an irony lost on both groups, each of which correctly claims the other does not understand current economics.

To cure stagflation, one must deal with two distinct problems – recession and inflation – using two distinct solutions. The solution for recession is federal deficit spending. Money is the lifeblood of an economy. During a recession, an economy suffers from “anemia,” a shortage of money. The treatment for anemia is to increase the blood supply. The government’s deficit spending adds money to the economy, curing the stagnation. Deficit spending can be accomplished by cutting taxes, increasing spending or both.

Then, to cure the inflationary part of stagflation, the government must raise interest rates, thereby increasing the reward for owning money, i.e increasing the value of money.

Increase deficit spending while increasing interest rates: The simple solution for taxation. Why will the government not take these easily administered steps? Because the mainstream economists wrongly belief deficit spending causes inflation, while MMT wrongly believes tax increases control inflation, and the Fed wrongly believes raising interest rates slows the economy.

Until these three groups understand economic realities, please pray we don’t encounter a stagflation, because the government will find it incurable.

Summary of how each group would attempt to defeat stagflation:

Mainstream economics (debt hawks):
Reduce taxes to stimulate economy
Reduce federal spending to cut federal debt
Increase interest rates to fight inflation
(Result: Reduction in federal spending nullifies tax reduction and exacerbates recession)

Modern Monetary Theory:
Increase taxes to fight inflation
Increase spending to stimulate economy
Reduce interest rates to fight inflation
(Result: Tax increase nullifies spending increase and exacerbates recession. Reduced interest rates exacerbate inflation)

Reduce taxes to stimulate economy
Increase spending to stimulate economy
Increase interest rates to fight inflation
(Result: Tax reduction & spending increase cure recession; interest rate increase cures inflation)

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity